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Erdogan’s representative says Russia postpones Congress of Syrian National Dialogue

In early November, Erdogan’s advisor said Turkey considered unacceptable the invitation for Democratic Union to participate in the event due in Sochi

ANKARA, November 5. /TASS/. Russia decided to postpone the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue after talks with Turkey, special advisor to the Turkish president Ibrahim Kalin said on Sunday, the Haberturk television channel reports.

According to him, "Turkey expressed objections" and thus "the Kremlin communicated Ankara to announce this meeting is postponed."

"Our contacts with Russia continue," Kalin said. "Our president also continues discussing the topic. Russia has postponed the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue, representatives of the Syrian Kurdish party Democratic Union will not participate in it."

In early November, Erdogan’s advisor said Turkey considered unacceptable the invitation for Democratic Union to participate in the event due in Sochi. Ankara considers it a branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which continues armed confrontation with the Turkish authorities and which Turkey considers a terrorist organization.

On November 2, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told reporters that a number of aspects concerning the upcoming Congress on National Dialogue, planned to be held in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi, had not been fixed and needed to be discussed with Russia’s partners in the Astana and Geneva processes.

On October 31, the Russian Foreign Ministry said about invitations to 33 organizations to participate in the Congress. Those organizations include the opposition’s groups in Damascus, Cairo, Riyadh, Istanbul, Paris, Geneva and Madrid. "Invitations to the Congress have been sent to the government, as well as, I would like to stress that, to all of the opposition forces based in Syria and in other countries," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. "It might actually be the first attempt to implement the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254, which stipulates that the global community should assist the Syrians in building an inclusive national dialogue." According to Lavrov, no such attempts have been made before. "The Geneva process, which has been stalled, involves only a limited number of persons, while all the Syrian forces are represented in the Astana process," he pointed out. The Russian foreign minister also said that the initiative to convene such a congress suggested that efforts to facilitate the intra-Syrian dialogue should be accelerated. "Many of those invited have already confirmed their participation, including [Syrian] President [Bashar al-] Assad," Lavrov stressed. "This is why the Congress is expected to be quite representative," he said.

Two key unions of the Syrian opposition abroad have refused from participating in the event: the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, and the High Negotiations Committee (the Riyadh group), which participates in the UN-led Geneva discussions.